Podcastle Miniature 41: East of Chula Vista


By Samantha Henderson

Read by Ben Phillips

Originally published in Abyss & Apex.

I rock in the bentwood chair on the porch and wait. I know about the
bodies in the arroyo, in the mesquite ash between the charred trunks
of the live oaks. The grass beneath the mesquite had grown long in
winter rains and was shriveled dry by the summer heat. Fire had
crisped it quickly, and the oaks were dense hard wood, old fuels,
burning long and hot and all-consuming.

Eventually they all come to me like homing pigeons, those unlucky ones
who die in the unforgiving desert, short water or caught out at night
with no fire and not enough of them to huddle together to keep warm,
not thinking how cold the badlands get in the middle of the night with
nothing to keep in the day’s heat. They come to me at dusk,
hollow-eyed and bewildered to my front yard, all of them. They stand,
wavering in the moonlight, waiting for me to let them go.

Rated R: Ghosts are Unhappy for a Reason